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Unstable Allotetraploid Tobacco Genome due to Frequent Homeologous Recombination, Segmental Deletion, and Chromosome Loss

Chen, Shumin, Ren, Feihong, Zhang, Lei, Liu, Yong, Chen, Xuejun, Li, Yuanmei, Zhang, Liang, Zhu, Bin, Zeng, Pan, Li, Zaiyun, Larkin, Robert M., Kuang, Hanhui
Molecular plant 2018 v.11 no.7 pp. 914-927
alleles, allotetraploidy, chromosome elimination, chromosomes, diploidy, extinction, genetically modified organisms, hybrids, loss-of-function mutation, mutants, niches, point mutation, resistance genes, screening, tobacco, viability
The types of mutations and their corresponding frequencies are difficult to measure in complex genomes. In this study, a high-throughput method was developed to identify spontaneous loss-of-function alleles for the resistance gene N and the transgenic avirulence gene P50 in allotetraploid tobacco. A total of 2134 loss-of-function alleles of the N gene were identified after screening 14 million F1 hybrids. Analysis of these mutants revealed striking evolutionary patterns for genes in polyploids. Only 14 of the loss-of-function mutations were caused by spontaneous point mutations or indels, while the others were caused by homeologous recombination (with a frequency of ∼1/12 000) or chromosome loss (∼1/15 000). Loss of the chromosome with the P50 insertion occurred at a similar frequency (∼1/13 000), and the frequency of spontaneous segmental deletion in this chromosome was ∼1/16 000. Both homeologous recombination and chromosome loss considerably decreased the viability of the mutants. Our data suggest that the high mutation rate in polyploids is probably due to the occurrence of homeologous recombination and the tolerance of large mutations such as chromosome loss in polyploid genomes. Frequent mutations tend to drive polyploids to extinction unless a novel mutation helps the polyploid to effectively compete with diploids or find a new ecological niche.